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Judge overturns police ban on ZCTU marches


Police overzealous ... ZCTU secretary general Japhet Moyo

12/09/2013 00:00:00
by Nkosana Dlamini
 
Ban overturned ... Justice Nicholas Mathonsi
 
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HIGH Court judge Nicholas Mathonsi has reversed a police ban on marches the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) had organised for this Saturday, ironically to commemorate police brutality on workers.

Police in Harare had banned the commemorations insisting the political situation obtaining in the country was not conducive to hold the commemorations.

When confirming the ban, Chief Superintendent Saunyama of Harare Central district, told the ZCTU police had obtained intelligence that unruly elements planned to hijack the procession and turn it around into a fully-fledged demonstration against the government.

The decision prompted  the ZCTU court challenge which was filed through the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) who argued that trade union activities were not covered by provisions of the Public Order and Security Act which police have routinely used to ban political rallies.

And Justice Mathonsi backed the ZCTU position and further ordered police to provide escort services to the planned marches.

In a related development, the ZCTU’s Bulawayo office also scramble to the High Court Thursday after police banned its planned activities in the country’s second largest city.

Percy Mcijo, a ZCTU official based in Bulawayo told NewZimbabwe.com they were forced to seek a late afternoon court order declaring the police ban as null and void.

In a letter banning the procession the ZRP said: “The proposed route passes through High Court and Tredgold Courts which will be sitting and also the route has high human traffic and traffic congestion such that unruly elements may take advantage and hijack the whole procession.

“The proposed date also coincides with planned operations by police which will consume a lot of manpower. In the event of chaos, police will not be able to cope due to skeletal staff.

“Due to the aforementioned reasons, can you confine all your commemoration activities at ZCTU Bulawayo office.”

The police ban on the processions sparked an angry reaction from the ZCTU secretary general Japhet Moyo who accused law enforcement agents of overzealousness.

“The police have been overzealous time and again about our work as trade unions,” said Moyo.

“We have explained in detail what the law says and we find it strange that time and again we have to go to the courts to exercise our rights and this is disrupting our operations because a lot of our members may not turn up after they heard in the press that our procession has been banned.”



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Despite the court ruling allowing the processions to go ahead, Moyo said he was still apprehensive the police could decide to ignore the court orders and block the marches.

“It’s very difficult because you never know about our police force,” he said.

“In previous instances, they have not been following court orders so you never know what is going to happen on Saturday. You might find that they will still refuse us to proceed but about the judgement its self, we feel vindicated.”

The ZCTU marches are planned for Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo and Chinhoyi and meant to commemorate the attack on the organisation’s leadership by police September 13, 2006 which left them nursing visible injuries.

The commemorations are now held annually.


 
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